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Should Montenegro be declared a safe country of origin?

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After the adoption of visa liberalization, the problem of the large number of false asylum seekers from the Western Balkan countries (Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, FYR Macedonia, Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro) could also significantly hamper the European route of these countries. as well as their potential integration into the European Union. Furthermore, the problem of numerous unfounded political asylum requests from these countries could also significantly compromise bilateral relations with the Federal Republic of Germany if not resolved appropriately.

In response, in 2014, Germany, through its two legislative bodies (Bundestag and Bundesrat), supported the law that defines Serbia, FYR Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina as safe countries of origin . This means that in these countries there is no political torture, no political persecution or abuse against political opponents that could endanger human integrity and dignity. More precisely, by supporting this law, the German Parliament has “vetoed” future false asylum seekers from these three countries. They found themselves in a situation where it is almost impossible to obtain political asylum in Germany. Likewise, due to the increasing number of unfounded political asylum seekers from Albania and Kosovo, the Bundesrat is discussing the possibility of defining these countries, together with Montenegro, as safe countries of origin.

The question that arises among the others is should Montenegro be declared a safe country of origin? Providing answers to this question is complex and requires an in-depth examination of the facts from different angles, as well as a holistic analysis. For the purposes of this article, it will be presented concisely.

From a foreign policy perspective, Montenegro, as an EU candidate country and one of the leaders of the European integration process in the region, as often cited, should be considered a country of origin on. So far, Montenegro has opened eighteen chapters (two chapters are provisionally closed and negotiations are underway on sixteen chapters). Montenegro’s achievements in the field of foreign affairs are significant, as it is a reliable European ally that responsibly fulfills its foreign policy and international obligations. Furthermore, the Montenegrin authorities emphasize their full commitment to promoting European values ​​and the development of a democratic culture, harmonization of national legal regulations with Community acquis, as well as the harmonization of foreign and security policy with the policy of the European Union and NATO, active participation in strengthening good neighborly relations, with the particular objective of establishing an initiative regional “Western Balkans Six” and participation in all international organizations. This of course requires close monitoring of the commitments made, but also support for subsequent steps in the accession process.

However, safe country of origin status cannot be achieved solely on the basis of foreign policy results and declarative positions of authorities. More importantly, the granting of safe country of origin status in most cases results from the internal politics of both the asylum seekers’ country of origin and the country in which they seek this status. Due to the problem of numerous unfounded political asylum seekers from Western Balkan countries, Germany has adopted the concept of “safe country of origin” in order to avoid further unjustified political asylum applications. Likewise, thanks to the strengthening of the asylum law, the German state stopped granting significant social benefits to asylum seekers during the long period of examination of their application. Montenegro is certainly not the country with a significant number of asylum seekers so far.

According to available data from the German Federal Immigration Service, in the first eight months of 2014, 114,000 applications were submitted for political asylum in Germany, and a sixth of all applications were submitted by citizens Serbians. , FYR of Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Compared to other Western Balkan countries, the number of Montenegrins seeking political asylum is extremely low. This statement also proves European Commission report on visa-free travel from the Western Balkans (25 February 2015) where it is clearly stated that “Serbian citizens remain the largest group of visa-free asylum seekers from the Western Balkans in the EU and Schengen associated countries (42% in 2013), followed by citizens of the FYR of Macedonia and Albania (21% each). , citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina (14%) and citizens of Montenegro (2%).

In this regard, it is also evident that there is no major abuse of this possibility for citizens who feel threatened regarding their fundamental rights in Montenegro. In addition, the internal democratic processes in the country are in certain aspects worrying and there are situations that can constitute a danger for the individual who dares to confront the authorities, particularly when it comes to issues related to the fight against corruption and organized crime. , as well as related questions.

It would therefore be unfair to limit this possibility to Montenegrin citizens based on other regional experiences. In the process of creating and regulating its relations with Montenegro, the EU and Germany should continue to maintain a bilateral rather than multilateral approach, or evaluate each country based on its own merits and characteristics rather than lumping them together all in the same “package”. .

Finally, it is important to emphasize that when it comes to domestic politics, Montenegro has still not achieved an adequate level of implementation and respect for the rule of law to be considered a safe country of origin. However, Montenegro’s negotiation process with the EU opened Chapter 23 which directly deals with issues of the judicial system and fundamental rights. It is nevertheless clear that the rule of law is still not a dominant principle in Montenegro. Strong political influences on the justice system do not ensure equal opportunities for all, nor full respect for human rights, particularly when it comes to the most vulnerable groups who do not feel empowered. security. The Roma population is largely affected by these conditions through marginalization and discrimination. Currently, they face a lack of education, while their civil and human rights are threatened due to the inability to find employment. There are frequent attacks on journalists and media properties and authorities have failed to establish a history of these investigations, and smear campaigns have been noted against civil society activists who criticize the ruling coalition. , smear campaigns which are also not properly dealt with by the authorities. Finally, human rights violations are evident in the case of LGBT people. The government still lacks an effective mechanism to protect their constitutional rights, particularly in the case of freedom of assembly and free movement.

It is therefore strongly recommended that Germany leaves this “window of opportunity” for those who might find themselves in mortal danger in Montenegro and thus offers them a new chance to lead a life in which they can feel safe and free .

Author: Vladimir Vučkovićprogram associate at the Center for Civic Education and doctoral student at the Faculty of Social Studies, Masaryk University

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